The recent announcement of MSG bringing a world-class 40-act concert to Flushing Meadows Corona Park makes one wonder about the history of concert in Queens. Herewith is our list of some of the most important moments in concert history that took place in our very own Borough.
4. KISS DEBUTS
More than 40 years ago in a little known club in Sunnyside, Bassist Gene Simmons, guitarist Paul Stanley, drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley performed their first gig. Less than 10 people witnessed the inauspicious event at the Popcorn Club (renamed The Coventry soon thereafter) and the rock quartet was paid a mere $50 dollars for performing two sets. More than $100 million in record sales and several hundred gallons of greasepaint later, Kiss (co-founders Simmons and Stanley) are still rocking venues around the world, albeit standing room only now!
3. BOOING BOB
Boos echoed throughout the hallowed “Hills” of Queens on August 28, 1965, when legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan had the audacity to perform with… wait for it… electric accompaniment at the esteemed Westside Tennis Club in Forest Hills! The event marked Dylan’s move away from political songwriting with many of his folk music followers feeling betrayed.
2. THE HILLS ARE ALIVE
Nearly a year following the Dylan fiasco, Forest Hills experienced another rock ’n’ roll brouhaha when the venerable stadium hosted the Rolling Stones. Hard to believe the show was not a sellout, perhaps due to the exorbitant $12.50 being charged for top seats and a temperature in the 90s. Still, far from the hisses and boos Dylan experienced, the boys from Dartford, England, were greeted with frenzied screams and paroxysms of passion, so much so that 250 of New York’s finest were deployed with nightsticks and tear gas to quell the crowd which had broken through the barricade.
1. THE SHOW HEARD ROUND THE WORLD
It’s not that The Beatles’ August 15, 1965, concert at Shea Stadium was particularly amazing, so to speak, on a performance level—the group was not noted for their live appearances, and they often complained they couldn’t hear themselves over the screams of the audience. But this show was the Fab Four’s biggest at the time—a record 55,000-plus fans attended and the show broke revenue records as well. Plus, the concert was broadcast around the world! It also marked a turning point in the band’s career—a year later The Beatles retired from live events.
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